How the Russians fight Nazism

Vlad Putin commemorated the 78th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in his own inimitable fashion.

Nazism, he declared, wasn’t extinguished in 1945. It’s still alive and well and thriving in the Ukraine. For it’s only the neo-Nazis who resist Russia’s noble effort to eradicate that blight off the face of the earth.

The first two sentences tell the truth: neo-Nazis are indeed committing unspeakable atrocities in the Ukraine. But those yahoos are clad in Russian uniforms.

The denazification of the Ukraine was the declared purpose of Russia’s attack on the Ukraine. To give you an idea how the Russians are getting on, I’ve translated this account of a Ukrainian nurse, Olena.

That Mariupol woman in her late forties was taken prisoner by the Russians early in the war. A few days ago she was released after a POW exchange. A friend of hers tells Olena’s story, to which I can’t really add much. [The narrative jumps from first to third person, but I’m only the translator here. I’m sure you can follow well enough.]

“Olena worked at her Mariupol hospital for a long time, and after [the Russian attack on] 24 February she stayed on the job round the clock. The bombings started, and the wounded began to arrive in uncountable numbers. They kept coming and coming… Brought in were soldiers, children, old people. There was an impression, says Olena, that the Russians wanted to drown us in blood. There were rivers of blood everywhere, and there was little water to rinse it away. We washed the instruments with alcohol and kept working. There was no electricity, operations were lit by emergency generators.

“When the hospital was bombed out, we were ordered to break up between two bunkers. One half moved to Azovstal, the other to the vast Ilyich factory. There we had to keep changing bunkers all the time because, whenever the Russians spotted a transport of the wounded, they’d bomb it. The operating rooms were placed close to the exit, for us to be able to move the patients and equipment to another place quickly.

“In early March it was no longer possible to get out of the siege since Mariupol was surrounded by a triple encirclement. First the Russians imprisoned the male doctors, then also the women. They were put into cellars, where they had to lie on naked cement. At another transit point, the Russians put 40 people into a room with four beds. They slept like sardines in a tin. Prisoners were transported blindfolded and with their hands tied, sometimes by air. When they eventually found themselves in a camp in Russia, everything they owned had been long since taken away: toothbrushes, underwear and naturally telephones.

“In transit, the people were fed the kind of slops that even a hungry dog wouldn’t eat, many people were reduced to skin and bones. When they arrived at the prison, they began to get some gruel and bread, and Olena started to gain weight. The guards were out to break the people’s spirit.

“After the 6 am reveille, we were made to sing the Russian anthem 5-6 times in a row, and not normally but at the top of the voice. If the singing wasn’t loud enough, the guards would bang on the door with their truncheons. That was the first warning and, when the door was finally opened, everyone was terrified – they knew they’d be beaten again. They were beaten constantly. As a result of the bombings, Olena had lost not only her hearing, but also her voice. She could hardly speak, and she was beaten for that too.

“If during the rollcall the guards decided that a prisoner didn’t spread her legs wide enough, they’d beat her on the inside of her legs with a truncheon. One elderly woman had a dislocated hip, she had been taken just before the operation. She begged to be treated, but they were hitting her on the legs with truncheons and sometimes electric shock: ‘Here’s your treatment’.

“They were forced to watch Russian propaganda TV channels all day long. In the morning they were given sheets of verses glorifying the Russians. These had to be recited by heart at a specified time. Those who couldn’t memorise the verses were beaten.

“We had two civilians with us. One was an epileptic who was having fits, the other was mentally retarded and couldn’t memorise anything. They were beaten too. Olena kept repeating her question: ‘Why those sick civilians? What were they beaten for?’ I asked: ‘Who did the beating?’ ‘The female guards themselves.’ ‘Were they middle-aged?’ ‘No, young. They kept telling us that the Ukraine didn’t exist any longer, and no one had any use for us, prisoners. We were forgotten and written off.

“Olena was told to accept the Russian passport. She refused. They asked why, she replied she had her sons in Kiev. Well, Kiev isn’t there anymore, she was told… None of the imprisoned women gave in, although they were all tortured.”

Olena’s story will probably make only a footnote in a multi-volume indictment of the crimes committed by the Russians in the good tradition of both Stalin’s and Hitler’s Nazism. The indictment, I believe firmly, will be one day read out at an international tribunal, at the Hague or elsewhere, perhaps even at Nuremberg.

And I do hope that sitting in the dock next to the murderers, torturers, rapists and their leaders will be their propagandists, both Russian and Western – especially the latter, those who should have known better. For it wasn’t just the likes of Kaltenbrunner and Frank who got the noose, but also Rosenberg, Streicher and, later, William Joyce, ‘Lord Haw-Haw’.

The precedent is there, and their present-day typological equivalents should ponder it – with seriousness and trepidation.  

Neither Britain nor USA is blameless

A hypothetical situation first: a sadistic murderer tosses a baby into the river and walks away laughing. What do you think of him? Don’t tell me, I know.

Yet walking by was another man who stopped to watch the thrashing baby – and did nothing to save him, even though he could have done so easily. What’s your verdict on that passer-by? An accomplice? I’d say. As bad as the murderer? Well, not exactly. But almost.

The moral of this hypothetical story can be extrapolated to a book on history, as proved by Dan Stone’s work The Holocaust: An Unfinished History. The publisher timed the launch well: the book came out last week, on the anniversary of the eponymous tragedy.

Prof. Stone sets his stall early: “Although the persecution of the Jews that led to the Holocaust was a German project – a point which cannot be overemphasised – it chimed with the programs of many European fascist and authoritarian regimes. Without the willing participation of so many collaborators across Europe, the Germans would have found it much harder to kill so many Jews.”

All true. The percentage of Jews killed in a country was directly proportional to the local enthusiasm for such an outcome.

Thus over 90 per cent of all Jews were killed throughout the occupied parts of the Soviet Union, 96 per cent in the Baltic republics. And the denizens of Lvov, the capital of Ukrainian Galicia, brutally murdered 10,000 Jews in the couple of days of the interregnum, when the Soviets had already left the city, but the Nazis hadn’t yet moved in.

Yet France lost less than a quarter of her Jewish community. A third of the Czech and Serbian Jews survived the war. In Holland and Belgium, a quarter survived – which is astonishing, considering those countries’ terrain and population density. Denmark managed to save practically all her Jews. But in Poland, 98 per cent of the Jews were murdered.

All this is widely known, at least among those who want to know. Yet the accusing finger usually points at the countries either occupied by Germany or allied with her. But what about the anti-Hitler coalition, made up primarily of the Soviet Union, Britain and the US?

They don’t quite qualify as the first hypothetical man mentioned above. But they fit the moral portrait of the second man like a suede glove.

The Nazis started the Second World War on 1 September, 1939, by attacking Poland from the west. Their Soviet allies joined in on 17 September, by moving in from the east. A few days later Poland capitulated, and a new border was formed between the two predator states.

Jews began to suffer atrocities in the German zone immediately. Many tried to flee into the Soviet zone – only to be turned back by the Soviet border guards who had been ordered to treat them as potential spies. Occasionally the soldiers even fired on the Jews, thereby saying in no uncertain terms that they weren’t welcome.

Germany attacked the Soviet Union on 22 June, 1941. On 2 July the Kremlin issued a directive on the “evacuation of the population and material assets”. Even horses merited a mention. Jews didn’t – this though the Soviets knew their lot would be dire.

To be fair, it took the Germans less than a fortnight to occupy the areas with the largest Jewish populations, mainly in the Ukraine, Byelorussia and Lithuania. Clearly, the rapidly retreating Soviets couldn’t evacuate millions of civilians, although saving a few thousand children could have been possible, given the will to do so. Yet the will wasn’t there.

What would have been easy though was simply to warn the Jews of the mortal danger awaiting them. Many of them could have saved themselves had they known, by hiding in cellars, fleeing into forests, joining partisan units (how they were treated there is a different story – I told it in this space on 16 May, 2015).

Yet only on 24 August did Soviet radio mention the unfolding tragedy in passing. By that time, the whole western part of the Soviet Union had already been occupied. On 6 December, 1942, the Soviet foreign ministry issued a memorandum about the murder of 52,000 Jews at Kiev’s Baby Yar.

And only on 19 December, 1942, did the Soviet government officially warn the Jews that they were all slated for extermination. By that time there was hardly anyone left to warn: only 250,000 of the four million inhabiting the occupied areas were still alive, just.

Stalin’s partners in the coalition, Britain and America, have no right to claim the high moral ground either. The Atlantic allies could have saved millions of Jews – and chose not to.

For about a year on either side of 1 September, 1939, Hitler’s cherished notion of a Judenfrei Europe didn’t necessarily include total extermination. The idea was to force Jews to emigrate somewhere, anywhere: to the USA, USSR, Madagascar, South America, Palestine – Hitler didn’t care. Initially the Nazis were even prepared to provide ships and some foreign currency to make Jews go.

Yet to Hitler’s surprise no country was willing to provide a refuge for the Jews – not even the Soviet Union, whose regime Hitler perceived as Jewish. And not even the USA to which Goebbels routinely referred as “the Jewnited States of America” (the lad did have a way with words).

Moreover, when some countries, notably Argentina and Brazil suffering from labour shortage, were willing to accept the Jews, the US blocked that initiative. At the same time, Britain contravened her own 1917 Balfour Declaration by practically stopping Jewish emigration to Palestine.

That something like that was going to transpire was already predictable in July, 1938, when, three years after the Nuremberg Laws were passed, representatives of 32 countries met at Evian-les-Bains, France, to discuss the problem of Jewish refugees.

The US representative Myron C. Taylor led the way by stating categorically that America was neither going to change her immigration quotas nor expected other countries to do so, for no country should assume the heavy financial burden of mass immigration.

The British delegate, Lord Winterton, explained that the British Isles were overpopulated as it was, which might have been the case. Yet he failed to mention the colonies, where there was no shortage of space. More to the point, he said nothing about Palestine where, according to the Balfour Declaration, Britain had undertaken to create “a national home for the Jewish people.”

Privately the delegates agreed they had no desire to welcome “the human refuse of Europe”. Of the 32 participating countries, only the Dominican Republic was ready to accept 100,000 Jews but, having discussed the issue with the Americans, withdrew the offer. The Nazi press gloated: no one wanted the Jews.

Hitler got the message. Since no one would stand up for the Jews, then even their mass murder, while pilloried publicly, would privately be treated with indifference or perhaps even sympathy. Only then, at the Wannsee Conference in January, 1942, did the Final Solution take its monstrous shape.

During the war, saving the Jews wasn’t just low on the Allies’ list of priorities – it wasn’t on the list at all. Thus in 1944, when the British and the Americans were fully aware of the scale of the catastrophe, they refused to bomb the railway leading to Auschwitz – even though the USAF was bombing the chemical plant just five miles away.

Getting back to the beginning, German and other murderers were the sadist who tossed the baby into the river. But the rest of us should suppress those smug smiles of moral ascendancy. We are that second man, one who refused to extend a helping hand.

As bad as the first man? No, not quite. But almost.

Sugar and spice and all things nice

Far be it from me to deny that Isla Bryson, née (or perhaps né) Adam Graham, is a genuine woman. Just look at her earlier photograph and you’ll instantly see her feminine side trying to break out of the hard outer shell of a repulsive male thug.

Girls just aren’t what they used to be

I’d only like to comment on the standards of womanhood that seem to be more fluid than ever before. In the past, arguments about femininity weren’t so much physiological or psychological as aesthetic.

People disagreed on what makes a beautiful woman, not a woman as such. For example, in the early 17th century people put a premium on hefty secondary sex characteristics, enveloped, if Rubens’s canvases are to be believed, in quite a bit of cellulite.

During our lifetime, the official concept of womanly charms began to diverge from the one widely accepted among the masses. The arbiters of taste began to promote the concept of a new Venus as a woman in the early stages of anorexia.

Men around the world pretend to agree. After all, who are they to argue with the gurus? However, privately 90 per cent of them still prefer fat women – and only 10 per cent, very fat ones (according to my own private poll).

One way or another, no matter how fluid tastes may be, few men – or for that matter women – see someone like Isla as a modern-day Venus de Milo. However, aesthetics aside, all of them are forced to accept Isla as a woman on pain of ostracism or, in the near future, perhaps even criminal prosecution.

Charge? I’m amazed you need to ask. Transphobia, of course, which crime is defined neither in its etymological sense as an inordinate fear of transsexuals nor in its new sense of implicit hatred. No, transphobia means simply refusing to accept Isla as a woman.

In her previous incarnation as Adam Graham, this dainty creature violently raped two women, a crime for which he/she/it was convicted and put in prison before sentencing. Alas, since those events unfolded in Scotland, he/she/it was put in a prison for women.

Now, I say sometimes that the only two good things to have come out of Scotland for decades are whisky and James MacMillan (the order is dictated by the rhythm of the sentence, not, as I hope James realises, relative importance).

And about the worst thing is Scotland’s politics, as exemplified by two consecutive SNP leaders, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. Between them they prove that there’s something decidedly fishy about Scottish politics.

Thus Scottish parliament has passed the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which, to its credit, British Parliament has blocked. That pernicious bill makes it easier for youngsters to change their sex. Now any Scot, 16 or older, can be legally castrated without the annoyance of having to seek parental consent.

A person that age can’t legally buy cigarettes or that second greatest Scottish contribution to civilisation, whisky (you can see that I’m not a great fan of David Hume and Adam Smith, although both had their good points). But that same youngster is deemed old enough to make a more or less irreversible decision about his or her sex.

That strikes me as a wee bit insane but, as Pascal didn’t quite say, the Scots have their reasons that reason knows not of (les écossais ont ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point).

However, that bill was passed after Adam went on his raping rampage and subsequently decided he was really Isla. Since even the Scottish parliament hasn’t yet progressed so far as to make its progressive laws retroactive, Isla is afforded no special protection.

Still, even the old laws were progressive enough to put Isla into a prison where her/his/its fellow inmates weren’t quite fellows. And then all hell broke loose.

The naturally female inmates loudly protested against having a convicted rapist with all his relevant bits still intact sharing their cells and shower rooms. And what do you know, their voices were heard and heeded.

A public outcry ensued, and Isla has been transferred to a proper men’s prison, where other rapists, robbers and serial murderers may well test her womanhood empirically. There’s a part of me that would actually welcome something like that to happen, but I admit it’s not the best part.

I do marvel at the sudden outbreak of gender dysphoria, which used to be an extremely rare condition. So rare, in fact, that in the less progressive past sufferers could often make a living by exhibiting themselves at county fairs.

There is always the possibility, nay certainty, that most of those aspiring conversos are actually sham transsexuals. In fact, Adam’s ex-wife used that precise adjective to describe his ‘transitioning’.

I’m not going to treat you to a why-oh-why lament about our declining civilisation. God knows you’ve heard enough of them. Instead, just this once I’d like to propose an instant solution to the problem, something that’s guaranteed to make transsexualism as rare as it used to be.

The government must stop recognising transition to a different sex as a legal status. That’s job done. Overnight, those malcontents will stop playing silly buggers and decide to stick with the sex specified on their birth certificate.

Glad to be of service.

P.S. On an unrelated subject, I continue to learn my English from commentators at the Australian Open.

To wit: “He found the breach from junior to professional tennis very hard.” I would have been tempted to say ‘transition’, but then I wasn’t born to the language.

Also: “The match is building to a crescendo.” ‘Crescendo’, I used to believe, is a musical term denoting a gradual increase in loudness. Thus you can’t build to a crescendo because it itself means ‘building up’.

“She showed hesitancy in hitting that shot.” Hesitation? Who knows.

“As I ascertained earlier…” I could have sworn the poor chap meant ‘mentioned’, but then why didn’t he say so?

Themis cheats

One gets the distinct impression that Themis, aka Lady Justice, sometimes doesn’t play her hide-and-seek fairly. When it comes to some laws, such as drink-driving, she is illogical, extortionist and often, well, unjust.

It’s the only law I can think of that imposes a means-tested punishment on transgressors. The Newcastle footballer Joelinton got the chance to find that out first-hand.

Stopped and breathalysed, he registered just over the limit and pleaded guilty to the charge. The judge then explained to Joelinton that the sentencing guidelines call for imposing fines somewhere between 75 and 120 per cent of the perpetrator’s weekly wage.

He took it easy on Joelinton by sticking to the lower proportion, which in his case amounted to £31,085 on top of a 12-month ban. Case closed.

Since Britons tend to be sanctimonious about driving after a couple of glasses of wine, no protests followed the verdict, no cries of outrage, no rallies alliteratively demanding justice for Joelinton.

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to our self-righteous throng that means-tested punishments (except perhaps for some financial crimes) constitute a gross miscarriage of justice.

The logic behind that practice is lame. Someone who, like Joelinton, makes $43,000 a week, the story goes, isn’t going to be hurt by a fine of a few hundred pounds. A manual labourer, on the other hand, wouldn’t forget a penalty of that magnitude in a hurry.

True. But by the same token a tweedy Carlton Club member would suffer from incarceration much more than a tattooed thug who has been in and out of prison his whole life.

Does that mean that the former would get a lighter sentence for, say, murder? Don’t be silly, of course not. If anything, the toff would be sent down for longer than the thug. It’s class war, innit?

But do let’s develop the logic of drink-driving fines a bit further. What happens if an unemployed man is caught DWI smelling like a brewery on a hot day? By definition he has no weekly wage to use as a yardstick of his indebtedness to the Crown. Should he not be fined at all then?

Real justice calls for punishment to be commensurate with the crime. Thus, a murder conviction in Britain calls for an automatic life sentence regardless of the criminal’s solvency or social background. That strikes me as just: the judgement is passed on the crime, not the man.

While anyone can see the difference between a heinous felony like murder and a trivial misdemeanour like drink-driving, I can’t for the life of me fathom why we should play fast and loose with ancient principles of jurisprudence.

Moreover, I have fundamental problems with penalising drink-driving at all. This is how the judge in Joelinton’s case explained his verdict: “’You placed yourself in real jeopardy and it could have had disastrous consequences for the lives of others.”

I love the past subjunctive there. Joelinton’s having drunk two glasses of wine instead of the allowable one could have had disastrous consequences – but didn’t. Therefore, he was punished on the statistical probability of hurting others.

On the same logic, he might as well have been punished for being black. After all, black men are statistically much more likely to commit, say, murder than any other racial group. Hence, Joelinton ought to have been put in prison for DWB, driving while black.

Most sane people in Britain would reject this logic. And yet those same people see nothing wrong with punishing drink-drivers on the statistical probability that they may kill someone.

If we apply statistics to justice, then sober drivers kill a lot more people than drunk ones. Will you then join my campaign against DWS, driving while sober?

Another question seems apposite. How does anyone ever get to be stopped for drink-driving? There are only two reasons that come to mind. One, he is driving badly or even dangerously. Two, spot-checking.

Now the former really ought to be punished. And if the bad driver is also drunk, I’d have no problem with that being treated as an aggravating circumstance.

I’d even go so far as to suggest that, if a drunk driver kills through his own fault, he should be charged with murder. That possibility, one suspects, would trump a fine and a ban for deterrent value.

In other words, what is really dangerous isn’t drink-driving but bad driving, for whatever reason. Thus I have no doubt whatsoever that, say, high-speed tailgaters kill more people than drink-drivers.

I myself have had a few hair-raising moments in France, where chaps routinely sit a foot behind one’s rear bumper at 90 mph, or else blithely stray into the fast lane without looking. Lock them up and throw away the key, I say.

No wonder twice as many people are killed by cars in France than in Britain – this though our populations are roughly the same. Also, they have 10 times as many road miles per car, and their roads are generally much better.

The other possible way of stopping a drink-driver is spot-checking. Again, when that happens no loud protests are heard, as they are whenever the police stop and search a member of a protected race. In both cases they proceed from statistical probability, so what’s the difference?

All in all, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that our courts have been largely turned into battlegrounds of class war and laboratories of social engineering. Themis is peeking from under her blindfold, and that’s about the worst thing that can happen to a country.

We can survive wars, economic crises and even Labour governments. What will eventually bring the house down is subsidence in the legal foundation of our civilisation. And it’s already creaking.

Yo Beethoven, my main man

Did you know Beethoven was black? No? That’s because you haven’t read Norman Lebrecht’s recent article on the subject.

You can see it, can’t you?

I have, and that effort gave rise to a few thoughts, starting with some general observations.

When savage fanatics try to force their wicked ways on the rest of us, the worst thing we can do is join the fight on their territory. Because they know the terrain better than we do they’ll quickly make us cede ground.

Such people must be stopped along the whole front line of ideas and language. Allowing them to impose them on us means they’ve won – even if we continue to put up token resistance.

Mr Lebrecht’s article is a case in point. He is a music critic, a decent one. Not great, but these days cultural beggars can’t be choosers. So decent is the best we can do.

He certainly knows and likes music, especially Beethoven. Understandably, it pains Mr Lebrecht to see his favourite composer being ‘cancelled’ by the kind of people I describe as savage fanatics but, being a more civilised man, he doesn’t:

“In the summer of 2020 a cry went up to ban Beethoven. Amid the protests of the Black Lives Matter movement, the composer’s 250th anniversary was seized on as an opportunity to silence his music for good – literally, for the good of all who had suffered historical prejudice and injustice. The prohibition quickly caught on.”

How would you fight against that sort of outrage? I’m putting you on notice that I shan’t entertain such answers as “with a 12-bore shotgun” or “with a baseball bat” (the latter implement is selling like hotcakes in London, where no one plays baseball), although that would be my own first impulse.

However, upon mature deliberation I’d arrive at the real answer: I don’t know. Things just might have gone too far for decent people to put up any meaningful resistance.

But I do know how not to fight against it. The absolutely last thing we should ever do is concede defeat in the war of language and values. That’s why Mr Lebrecht is wrong in the way he takes exception to the cancelling of Beethoven on the grounds of his being too white, too male and not sufficiently sensitive to BLM sensibilities he knew nothing about.

He claims that Beethoven himself might have been black – well, blackish – which puts him out of reach for any such criticism. This line of defence is tantamount to admitting defeat.

The arguments Mr Lebrecht uses as weapons misfire badly. “Two portraits of Beethoven,” he writes, “drawn in 1801 and 1814, show a man with a dark complexion”.

I’m sure you’ve met quite a few people with a dark complexion who don’t have a single drop of tar in the family barrel. I know I have. I can think of a young Scottish aristocrat with that chromatic feature, several Russians, a Welshman and any number of Englishmen – to say nothing of some of my French friends.

Yes, but “his paternal grandmother, María Josefa Poll, belonged to a family that fled north during the 1700s War of Spanish Succession. Recent research locates her in Moorish eastern Spain.”

Quite. And I fled north from Texas in 1984, which doesn’t make me a Texan born and bred. What else? “He felt a deep affinity with Spain, setting his only opera, Fidelio, in the country and cheering Britain’s defeat of Napoleon’s peninsular army.”

Mr Lebrecht knows better than I do that setting operas in Spain was par for the course in Vienna at the time. Mozart, for example, set his Don Giovanni, The Abduction from the Seraglio and The Marriage of Figaro there. Was he an Afro-Austrian then?

By the same logic Bach was an Italian because he wrote The Italian Concerto, Mendelssohn, with his Scottish Symphony, was a Scot, and don’t get me started on Gershwin with his Porgy and Bess.

But when Mr Lebrecht is hot, he’s hot. “Take another look at the portraits and you will find that they differ in almost every feature from those of his two brothers. Are we sure they shared the same father? Johann van Beethoven was a violent alcoholic. His 23-year-old wife, Maria, miserable in her second marriage, might perhaps have found comfort with a passing stranger.”

There’s always that possibility. But siblings looking different wouldn’t stick in divorce court as proof of adultery. Again, I know, as I’m sure you do, many siblings who don’t look at all alike. Yet that’s not a sufficient reason for impugning their mothers’ fidelity.

Actually, Beethoven himself was a dipsomaniac, borderline alcoholic. How about using that as proof of his father’s paternity? Alcoholism may well be hereditary, after all.

And then comes the other old chestnut: Beethoven’s best friend for five years was a Jewish medical student, Alois Isidor Jeitteles…” If that’s not proof of negritude, I don’t know what is.

But we are getting warm: Beethoven liked the playing of a mulatto violinist and even called his famous work Sonata for a Mad Mulatto, only to rename it the Kreutzer Sonata later. That nails it. Then again, a certain English pianist admires the playing of the Russian-Jewish pianist Maria Yudina, yet, to the best of my knowledge, Penelope is neither Russian nor Jewish.

To clinch the argument, Mr Lebrecht then lays on some technical expertise: “Having spent three years poring over two centuries of Beethoven interpretation, I find ultimate proof of his multiculturalism in the final piano sonata, Opus 111. Three minutes into the second movement the music starts rocking from side to side, like a ship caught in a Channel storm…”

Would that be a slave ship carrying chained Africans to their European servitude by any chance? Thank goodness I haven’t tried my hand at musical criticism. The syncopations of logical inference would be beyond me.

Quite apart from the utter vulgarity of interpreting music that way, Mr Lebrecht commits a great tactical error. He implicitly issues a carte blanche for savage fanatics to cancel any composer who can’t boast a dark complexion and affection for Spain.

Civilised people shouldn’t care about the racial background of the seminal figures in our culture. True enough, most people aren’t civilised, and those BLM zealots are downright savage. But we can’t keep them at bay by accepting their cretinous assumptions. Therein lies perdition.  

Child abuse in the royal family

Give us a boy, say the Jesuits, and we’ll give you a man. Give me a boy, says Princess Eugenie, Prince Andrew’s little girl, and I’ll give you an eco-fanatic.

Poor August doesn’t know what’s in store for him

The boy in question is her son August, who turns two in a few days. That’s the cut-off point, beyond which the poor boy’s indoctrination is planned to start.

The Princess, aka Mrs Jack Brooksbank, has it all mapped out: “My son’s going to be an activist from two years old, which is in a couple of days. So, he, everything is for them.” Nicely put – I especially like the second sentence.

Such ideas make one think. And this is the thought that flashed across my mind: God save us from people with weak minds and strong ideas.

What a pity that the concept of child abuse comprises only violent or sexual transgressions against a child’s body. A child’s mind, implies the law, is off limits for abuse. When the parents do to the mind what perverts do to the body, that’s nobody’s business.

Eugenie went to the same public school, and at the same time, as my beloved niece, who also came out at the other end with all sorts of deep concerns about ‘our planet’. If that’s what expensive education delivers, give me a bog standard comprehensive any day.

The princess shared those views with the dyed-in-wool sharks at the World Economic Forum in Davos. I’m sure they all toss and turn through the night, having nightmares about our planet reduced to red-hot wasteland by aerosol sprays and plastic bags.

To give Eugenie justice, she didn’t claim to have arrived at her desire to abuse her son by any cerebral route. The decision, according to her, was purely hormonal:

“Every decision we now make has to be for whether August, what he’s going to be able to look at and do and how he’s going to live his life. But I think also as a mother, you all of a sudden, totally you change, your hormones change, everything changes.”

It’s that expensive education again, which evidently doesn’t impart an ability to put together a coherent sentence, never mind a sound thought. Eugenie then added that post-natal hormonal changes also gave her a fear of flying, which is about as rational as her fear of global warming.

She also said they had nothing plastic at home, which is unlikely. What, not even credit cards? Also, does she drive a car? Or is driven in one? In that case, an average sedan has about 100 lbs of plastic materials in its body. That’s a lot of shopping bags and mineral water bottles.

Since Eugenie clearly doesn’t read serious books, she must surf the net in search of information about our dying environment. What does she think her computer is made of? Solid gold? Sugar and spice? Mine is mostly plastic, and I bet so is hers.

That public school of hers must have left not only English but also logic off the curriculum. Otherwise its alumna wouldn’t be mouthing utter gibberish, such as: “I’d rather be that way, but sometimes the facts and the figures and sometimes having the dinners do give you that sort of sense of frustration and doom and gloom.”

Whatever that sentence means, it evades me. Neither do I detect any sensible causal relationship in the link Eugenie’s found between global warming and slavery:

“Modern slavery and human trafficking is a really big issue across the globe. There are 49 million people estimated in slavery today and we know that when the climate is vulnerable, the most vulnerable people are affected by it.”

Let’s see if I get it right. Using aerosol sprays, driving cars and carrying groceries in plastic bags directly leads to more people being enslaved. If there is a point there, it’s lost on me. But then I went to a free school where most boys carried knives in their pockets.

I do suggest that Eugenie go back to her plastic computer and read up on the history of both slavery and climate. She may find that slavery is a more or less constant fact of life, whereas global temperatures, if you look at them over millennia, not just last week, go up and down. In fact, for about 80 per cent of the Earth’s lifetime, they have been higher than they are now. 

Eugenie credits her heightened awareness not only to her dancing hormones, but also to her Mummy and Daddy: “I have always loved being in nature. My parents instilled in me a love of wild places and a respect for animals and the natural world.”

If half the things one reads about Andrew and Fergie are true, then they would have been more likely to instil in little Eugenie a love of wild parties, not wild places. But they, like the moon, must have another side never revealed to earthlings.

I pity poor August. He already got a bad start in life by being given a weird name – that is, unless the princess wished to remind the public of her family’s German origins. In German, that name has lost its original Latin ending. But it has kept it in English, where the name normally comes across as Augustus.

When he goes to his own expensive school, other boys will tease him no end (I’m assuming, or rather hoping, that our best – well, most expensive – schools won’t have gone co-ed by then). And he’ll already have his head pumped full of woke rubbish, which, if Eugenie is to be taken at her word, he’ll try to preach to all and sundry.

I do hope that as a result poor August won’t find himself on the receiving end of physical violence. As he is already finding himself on the receiving end of mental abuse.

Do Putin’s shills take his shilling?

Though my friends tend to avoid alliterative puns, they often ask me this type of question in relation to British commentators who openly root for Russia’s bandit raid on the Ukraine.

Lord Rothermere and his idol

These Putinistas are de facto Russian agents, but are they witting or unwitting ones? Are they paid to spout their pro-Kremlin rubbish or are they moved to do so by the call of their own hearts?

My invariable answer is that I don’t care one way or the other. Their motives ought to be of interest only to their friends, families, priests or perhaps the MI5. For me, the only thing that matters is that they act as Putin’s mouthpieces, thereby doing the devil’s work and damaging the cause of resistance supported by their own country and all her allies.

I follow two such evildoers, although I’m aware of quite a few others. And what do you know, those two have made me reassess my lifelong contempt for psychobabble. Or truth to tell, for psycho- anything, even if there is some scientific basis to it.

The two chaps in question are Rodney Atkinson and Peter Hitchens and, their almost erotic craving for Putin’s brawn apart, they have one thing in common. While they themselves lack any conspicuous talent, they both grew up with talented brothers.

Rodney’s brother Rowan allegedly used him as the protagonist for his character Mr Bean. And the chip on Peter’s shoulder is even heavier, for his brother Christopher plied the same trade as his, but did it with a lot more verve. He mostly talked facile rubbish, but he did so with style and panache.

Of the two, the less said about Rodney, the better because, quite apart from his obvious mental problems, he is a very stupid man. Peter isn’t, which suggests his mental condition is even more acute.

His brother died in 2011, but Hitchens continues to ratchet up the sibling rivalry. Since Christopher was left-wing, atheist, homosexual and anti-Putin, Peter has to be the opposite of all those things. At the same time, he still seems to seek his brother’s approval, which is hard to get this side of a séance featuring a spinning saucer.

That psycho quirk is evident not only in the contents of Hitchens’s musings, but also in his constant contortionist attempts to pat himself on the back. Whatever his subject, one leitmotif is always present: I was the only man who told you so, but you didn’t heed my warnings and abused me for offering them. Now I’ve been proved right yet again, will you finally listen to me, you nincompoops?

Such stylistic flourishes make me want to argue with Hitchens even when I happen to agree with his typically banal truisms. For example, social damage done by recreational drugs is one of his pet themes. Hence, whenever I scan his animadversions I feel like rolling a spliff, something I’ve never done in my life.

As for his self-assumed role as Putin’s propagandist, I have my suspicions – not only because of what he says but also because of when he says it.

Hitchens consistently follows the Kremlin’s line, but that line isn’t straight. It zigs and it zags, it goes up, down or sideways. And I’ve noticed that, whenever Russian propagandists change their direction, so does Hitchens, at exactly the same moment.

Since that happens every time, one has to begin harbouring ugly suspicions about deliberate coordination. Yesterday’s offering by Hitchens is a case in point.

Ever since Putin blessed the world with his arrival at the Kremlin, the threat to “turn the West into radioactive dust” has been omnipresent in the background. That’s Putin’s way of throwing his toys out of the pram whenever he can’t get his way.

But at times that threat has been known to move into the foreground, at precisely the moments Putin sees as pivotal. Thus we had almost two months without overly shrill promises to annihilate the world.

Putin’s war on the Ukraine has entered an attrition phase, with no significant advances being made by either side. In fact, both sides are regrouping in anticipation of future offensives. For the Ukraine such prospects are contingent on supplies of Western armaments, especially heavy armour and AA systems.

Last Friday Western leaders met at Ramstein to discuss military aid to the Ukraine. While Germany again delayed the transfer of Leopard battle tanks, other countries, including Britain and even France are sending over dozens of tanks, hundreds of armoured vehicles and several new Patriot batteries.

That predictably sent the Putin gang into hysterical fits, and nuclear threats went many decibels up. The possibility of a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive now looms large, and Putin’s stooges could no longer contain themselves.

Thus Vladimir Gundiayev, known to the faithful as Patriarch Kirill and to the KGB as its lifelong ‘Agent Mikhailov’: “Any attempt to destroy Russia will mean the end of the world.” It goes without saying that thwarting Putin’s aggression is tantamount to just such an attempt.

This was echoed by Putin’s loyal poodle, former sham president Dmitry Medvedev. Having shaken his customary hangover, he explained that: “The defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war may provoke a nuclear war.”

Putin’s Chechen viceroy Kadyrov, who doesn’t even pretend to be anything other than the bandit warlord he is, added a Muslim touch to the hysterics: “Russia will never countenance defeat in any fight. We can push the button – and salaam alaikum!”

Duma speaker Volodin: “Supply of offensive weapons to the Kiev regime will lead to a global catastrophe.”

Those were just four voices in a choir bellowing variations on the same theme: if the West sends heavy armour to the Ukraine, kaboom! And Hitchens clearly discerned his marching orders in the din.

Hence his piece yesterday that recapitulated the same theme: “Sending Ukraine our tanks could turn Europe into one big radioactive graveyard.”

After that self-explanatory intro came Hitchens’s stock claim to being the lone voice crying in the wilderness, yet having his prophesies unheard and unheeded: “I won’t waste time here going over the question of who started the Ukraine war, or even why. Most people don’t want to know and refuse to think about it, or to look up the facts. They defame and abuse anyone who tries to tell them. So to hell with that. I’m bored with trying.”

Though Hitchens’s ennui is regrettable, he is wrong. Most people do want to know and they do look up the facts. The trouble is that the facts stubbornly refuse to back up the Kremlin’s – and Hitchens’s – lie that the war was provoked by Nato’s westward expansion that threatened Russia’s survival.

In fact, the only thing it did threaten was Putin’s ability to do to all of Europe what he is currently doing to the Ukraine. Anybody in his right mind knows that Nato is a purely defensive bloc designed to stop aggression, not to perpetrate it.

Putin knows that too, and so does Hitchens. But they insist that Russia felt threatened which was the same as being threatened. And the only possible response to that subliminal threat? Why, bombing Ukrainian cities flat, murdering, looting and raping civilians, threatening the West with nuclear holocaust. What else?

That sort of thing lacks even novelty appeal. When I was a boy in Moscow, the Soviets pounced on Hungary that had risen to free herself from communism.

I remember the KGB spreading exactly the same kind of lies then: American – and West German!!! – troops were poised at the Hungarian border ready to move in. Thank God, who doesn’t exist, that Marshal Konev’s troops managed to beat Nato to the punch by going into Hungary pre-emptively and drowning the uprising in blood.

When I was a young man, the same scenario was played out with Czechoslovakia, when, explained the Soviet papers, Soviet tanks managed to nip Nato’s aggression in the bud by crushing Czech students under their tracks in Prague’s Wenceslas Square.

That song was written on the hymn sheet of Russian evil from which Hitchens sings with gusto. Yesterday he went from his usual baritone to a grating falsetto because Parliament had voted unanimously (and the US Congress almost unanimously) for arms supplies to the Ukraine.

To Hitchens that means that “the Government and its tame thinkers are not in favour of free debate on crucial national policy, and nor is anyone else much.” Meaning they aren’t ready to yield to Putin’s blackmail, so avidly rehashed by Hitchens.

Yet he’ll never give up his courageous stand as Putin’s propagandist: “So it is left to me to tell you that it is an act of grave stupidity for the West to supply Ukraine with modern tanks. Unlike everyone else in the media and politics, I am not a military expert. But I know what tanks are for, and it is not defence.”

That Hitchens isn’t a military expert is the only truthful thing he has ever said on the subject. This he proves by dropping his neo-Gnostic hint that tanks are a purely offensive weapon. Hence, by begging for them, the Ukraine has shown her true colours as the proxy aggressor in this war.

In fact, tanks can also be used for defence, wherein a counterattack is a time-proven tactic. In fact, offensive and defensive weapons aren’t easily distinguishable in modern warfare. So it is left to me to tell you that it is not the West but Hitchens who is stupid – or perhaps worse.

“But why is Britain in this affair?” cries out Hitchens. “I know that a lot of voters in key states in America hate Russia because their forebears came from lands Moscow had oppressed. I know that some neo-conservative fanatics in Washington have long desired to dismantle Russia and ensure that it is never an important country again.”

But the British are by and large neither descendants of Eastern Europeans nor neocon fanatics. Hence we should stand idly aside and watch Putin imposing his ‘traditional’, in fact bandit, values on the Ukraine first, Eastern Europe second – and tomorrow ze world.

Suddenly wafts in the spirit of Lord Rothermere, the owner of Hitchens’s paper, The Mail, in the 1930s. In his hands, the paper (and his other property, The Daily Mirror) became consistently pro-Nazi, advocating appeasement and barely concealing its owner’s admiration for der Führer.

Today’s answer to der Führer, Putin, is as forthright as his inspiration. He sees the Ukraine as only a proxy to the real enemy he is fighting: Nato or, more generally, the West. Refusing to fight back would be both immoral and strategically inept.

Under Putin the staff of the SVR (formerly the First Chief Directorate of the KGB, foreign intelligence) has doubled in size compared to Soviet days. Perhaps the most important of its tasks is manipulating public opinion in the West.

One wonders whether Hitchens represents one of the SVR’s recruitment successes. The recruitment could have been a straight transaction between two parties. Or it could have been what the KGB called recruitment ‘in the dark’, with the mark unaware that he had been recruited.

When it comes to practical outcomes, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. I don’t even particularly want to know which.  

When the rot set in

“Repudiation of Europe,” the novelist John Dos Passos once wrote, “is, after all, America’s main excuse for being.”

Luther and Calvin

This is one of my favourite aphorisms because it rings true and also lends itself to extrapolation. For if repudiation of anything is the main excuse for being, that means the repudiator is mostly driven by negative impulses.

This is true of every revolution, political, social, cultural or religious. They are all animated by the urge to cast tradition away or, for preference, to destroy it. Sometimes, as in the case of the American Revolution, a positive impulse is present too. But it’s never as strong as the negative one, nor as all-pervasive as the revolutionaries claim.

All revolutions are in essence what Ortega y Gasset used as the title of his best-known book, The Revolt of the Masses. However, the masses don’t rise in revolt until they have been sufficiently primed by educated elites possessed of the urge and energy to change things.

Such elites never plan a long way ahead. They don’t bother about the chain reactions triggered by the revolt they inspire and organise. Their claimed motive is some sort of progress, but all revolutionaries mainly use positive shibboleths as camouflage for negative urges – to enfeeble, destroy, abandon or, for that matter, repudiate.

Now, my hypothesis, one that I’ve explored in several books, is that every formative upheaval of modernity was caused by a revolt against Western civilisation and the religion on which it was based – regardless of the slogans the revolutionary banners displayed.

Some revolutions, such as the French and the Russian, also aimed their slings and arrows at Christian worship. But neither the English nor American revolutionaries sought to annihilate the faith. It was the apostolic Christian religion that they loathed, along with the civilisation the religion has spun out.

They shared that animus with all other revolutions, including the only properly religious one, the Reformation. All of them were populist, serving up different versions of the same slogan, “All power to the people”.

But power, unlike wealth, is a zero sum game. The more of it is in the hands of the people, the less is left for the traditional institutions and, more broadly, traditional civilisation.

Yet all populist revolutionary slogans are larcenous. It’s not the people who gain power, but an elite presuming to act in their name. Hence, in effect, as opposed to rhetoric, the ubiquitous slogan really ought to be “Down with the traditional institutions and the civilisation they embody”. That would be less catchy but more honest.

The groundwork for systematic subversion had been laid by Renaissance humanism, whose spread signalled the end of the Middle Ages. That was the onset of the shift so precisely described by Chesterton: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; rather, it has been found difficult and left untried”.

The Black Death (1346-1353), the cataclysm that wiped out up to half of Europe’s population, was a decisive factor. That delivered a blow to the Church, which couldn’t find a theodicy persuasive enough to explain a calamity of that magnitude.

Anti-clericalism, at the time mostly expressed as mockery, became the order of the day and so it has continued to this day. The personage of a corrupt, lustful, crooked monk, priest or nun densely populated European literature, from Rabelais and Boccaccio to Diderot and Voltaire. Even when the writers were themselves devout, as in the case of Boccaccio, the Zeitgeist made them put their pen to wicked use.

As the formulator and guardian of Christian doctrine, the Church was (and to a large extent still remains) for all practical purposes coextensive with Christianity, while the latter was coextensive with the civilisation called Christendom.

The three were like a tripod: sturdy only when all three legs are intact. But break one of the legs off, and the whole structure collapses. And the Church was the leg to which the subsequent Reformation took the sledgehammer.

Although the key figures of the Reformation thought they were better Christians, in fact they were out to destroy, not just to reform. Even though they identified their grievances against the Church as clerical corruption, graven images, indulgences and the rest, these were mere pretexts.

It was the very institution of the apostolic, hierarchical Church that they set out to annihilate, perhaps not realising they would thereby set the stage for the advent of mass atheism. Luther, Calvin and Zwingli aimed their blows at the Church, but the blows landed on Western civilisation, if by delayed action.

The typological secular equivalent of the apostolic, hierarchical Church was the aristocratic, hierarchical state. Since the two were interlinked, the state too was bound to become vulnerable. Luther et al. might not have realised that and, more critical, neither did the contemporaneous princes.

They were the ones who saved Luther’s life after he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg. His action was blatant heresy, and under normal circumstances that would have been severely punished. But many princes shielded Luther from ecclesiastical wrath, and actually professed embracing his ideas. Their reasons were not fideistic but purely political.

By abandoning the Emperor’s confession, they could claim a legitimate reason for abandoning the Emperor. Hence Luther wasn’t their priest; he was their weapon.

The Western Church was put asunder, and it could no longer act as the ramparts protecting the civilisation against a barbarian assault. The walls had been breached, and they began to totter.

The Reformers were revolutionaries driven by the same populism that was later adopted and weaponised by their secular descendants. Luther and especially Calvin wished to remove the mediation of the Church from the discourse between God and man, effectively making each man his own priest, in Luther’s phrase.

De facto prayer leaders were going to replace priests who were no longer needed. After all, the Bible contained everything believers needed, and each of them was perfectly capable of interpreting Scripture as he saw fit.

Yet subsequent history showed that, when every man became his own priest, sooner or later he was going to become his own God. Thus Protestantism was bound to split up into the hundreds of dubiously Christian sects we see today, but that was the lesser evil.

Above all, men who approached the divine status in their own minds were bound to make God redundant sooner or later. Humility was being ousted by solipsism, liberally laced with hatred.

The Protestants were led to believe that they had lost the shackles of clerical oppression – and they were encouraged to abhor the institutions deemed responsible for their erstwhile plight.

The psychological mechanisms were exactly the same as those activated two centuries later, when the Americans and the French were tricked into believing they were tyrannised by the least despotic monarchs ever, George III and Louis XVI respectively.

We now know that a strong Church is the sine qua non of a strong religion, and a strong religion is the sine qua non of Western civilisation. Once the rot set in, atheism began to advance in parallel with the decline of a civilisation that could no longer ward off the blows raining on it from all directions.

Yet iconoclasm persists long after the icons have been smashed. The masses, encouraged to believe Western civilisation was evil and oppressive, are eager to erase its vestiges off the face of the earth.

To get the wrecking ball swinging, the Reformation and the Revolution combined to destroy some 80 per cent of all the Romanesque and Gothic buildings in France – an orgy that continued throughout the 19th century. Yet it’s not only the physical monuments of Christendom that continue to excite barbarian hatred.

Every extant manifestation of Western civilisation, from music and poetry to language and manners, is a red rag to the modern bull. That situation didn’t just appear. It has taken centuries to develop, a period signposted by the Black Death, Renaissance humanism, the Reformation and all the secular revolutions adumbrating modernity.

The rot set in a long time ago, and it has infested our civilisation the same way termites infest the foundations of buildings. And with the same result.  

Universal (il)literacy

Listening to the commentators at the Australian Open is hard going for anyone who loves the English language as much as I do. Just two examples, off the top:

“She hits the ball hard in spite of her physicality.” The word you were looking for, dear, was ‘physique’. If it was the player’s physicality you wished to highlight, then the proper preceding phrase would have been ‘because’, not ‘in spite of’.

Or, “I referenced his backhand earlier.” ‘To reference’ means to cite the source of a claim. ‘To refer [to]’ means to mention, which would have been the right word there.

These mistakes aren’t as bad as their origin: the prole belief that adding syllables adds sophistication no matter what. Actually, it doesn’t, even when the words are used correctly. When they aren’t, the effect is as risible as it’s upsetting.

That gets me back to one of my pet themes: issuing licences to use words of more than two syllables. A simple test should establish eligibility, with questions like “Choose the right word: the performance was [masterful, masterly], every nuance came delicately shaped.”

Such a procedure wouldn’t just protect the curmudgeonly sensibilities of an old pedant like me. Above all, it would have an outside chance of saving the greatest language on earth from mangling vandalism.

Oh well, that will have to remain a cherished dream. However, one has to take issue with one axiomatic assumption of liberal ideology: the advisability, indeed virtue, of universal literacy.

Since any ideology ends up delivering results opposite to its proclaimed aims, a politically motivated commitment to make everyone literate is guaranteed to make most people illiterate.

This is borne out empirically. In Victorian England, before literacy was declared to be a social-engineering hoist lifting the downtrodden masses out of their misery, 97 per cent of the population were literate. Today, after liberal notions have indeed become axiomatic, that rate is 10 per cent lower.

Literacy in this statistic means being able to read simple texts, such as road signs, fluently and without moving one’s lips. Climbing up from that basic requirement, we’ll get to a higher plateau: the ability to use words in their true meaning and arranged according to the demands of proper grammar.

Now that height is beyond the reach of most of our comprehensively educated masses, as it always was even before education became comprehensive. But there is a difference: in the past, people unable to use English properly didn’t get to parade their ignorance in the public arena, especially in a professional journalistic capacity.

And I’m not talking about a very distant past either. Anyone who listened to the wireless in the ‘50s, watched TV in the ‘60s or read the papers in the ‘70s will confirm that my vituperative attacks on egalitarianism aren’t wholly groundless.

Alas, turning English into a heap of solecisms is part of the general vulgarisation of life. And the latter, in turn, proves a law of nature to which there are no known exceptions: everything that requires discernment will be destroyed if made available to the masses.

Modernity is mindlessly committed to the elevation of the common man, but this goal is unachievable in any other than the crudest material sense. Yet ideology prevents this demonstrable truth from ever being mentioned.

Today’s malcontents are out to destroy the hierarchical social structure. They don’t realise that, when that pyramid collapses, it will bury culture under the rubble.

For the masses won’t rise up to the level of cultural subtleties – they’ll force them to tumble down to their own level. Poetry will be reduced to doggerel, literature to potboilers, music to easy listening at best and anti-musical satanic chants at worst, politics to Rishi Sunak.

And English will plummet into the linguistic gutter inhabited by the masses, out of whose ranks sports journalists are being plucked.

Now I’d better shut up, just in case. I’m sure elitism will be criminalised before long, and there’s no guarantee that law won’t be made retroactive.

No, Minister

The C of E bishops have said no to the demand of Penny ‘Thunder Thighs’ Mordaunt, senior Tory minister, that the Church “conduct weddings for same-sex couples or, at a minimum, enable authorised blessings.”

Big sister…

According to Thunder Thighs, the Church fails “to recognise the pain and trauma that this continues to cause many LGBT+ people who are left feeling that they are treated as second-class citizens within our society.”

Specifically unrecognised are the pain and trauma plaguing her brother James, a homosexual airline steward and, by all accounts, a keen body builder. Actually, James would be well-advised to concentrate on developing his mind, rather than just building (and decorating) his body.

…and little brother

If he made that effort, he’d probably refrain from speaking arrant nonsense, such as: “If you are a member of the Conservative Party, a Conservative MP, part of this homophobic transphobic Government, you are complicit [in the hatred that’s conspicuously prevalent in England]”.

Clearly, James’s big sister wants to absolve herself of any such complicity. To that end she has contributed some arrant nonsense of her own.

Thunder Thighs doesn’t seem to realise that promoting secular egalitarianism isn’t what churches are for – even if they happen to be established. They have their own mission and their own rules, which are collectively called Christian doctrine.

That doctrine regards homosexuality as a mortal sin and homomarriage in church (which by the way was regrettably legalised by precisely the “homophobic transphobic” party that James finds complicit in fostering hatred) as a sheer impossibility.

Equally impossible is, or rather should be, offering “authorised blessings” to homomarriage, for churches are supposed to damn mortal sins, not bless them. Anyway, that would constitute cultural appropriation, for such endorsement is the exclusive domain of satanic sects.  

If Penny Mordaunt wishes to indulge in social taxonomy by dividing citizens in first and second classes, and then insisting they be merged into one, that’s her privilege. However, one wishes that a Minister of the Crown devoted her boundless energy to more productive activities.

For the time being the C of E bishops are holding firm. They have reiterated that, according to the Church’s teaching, Holy Matrimony is a union between one man and one woman. They’ve also refused to put the matter to a Synod vote.

However, the Church is under tremendous pressure to adapt its doctrine to the vicissitudes of secular fads.

Its ability to resist isn’t helped by its established status, especially since its Anglican equivalent in Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, has chosen woke virtue over the Christian kind, at least on this issue.

(That Church is the ecclesiastical equivalent of the consistently subversive Scottish Independence Party, whose mission in life is to destroy the United Kingdom in the name of independence. It then hopes to commit Scotland to membership in the EU, which worthy goal doesn’t quite tally with any sensible idea of independence.)

My guess is that the C of E will succumb soon enough. That should remind those who take such issues seriously of how perilous it is for churches to submit to state control.

State policies change in line with its flexible, not to say these days nonexistent, principles and elastic morality. So much more important is it that Christian doctrine remain immutable and impervious to any secular pressures.

Doctrine should only ever change strictly as a result of an internal ecclesiastical decision, not of ministerial diktats. If any church becomes a weathercock turning in the wind of secular fashions, it thereby forfeits its mission.

Those Scottish prelates ought to remind themselves of the kingdom that is not of this world. In case they aren’t sure of the provenance of this phrase, it comes from John 18:36, which is a verse in the book that Christians used for guidance in the past.

When they veer from it in the direction of other publications, such as PinkNews or the Communist Manifesto, they are no longer Christian churches in anything but name.

As for our siblings, I have an idea they may wish to ponder. Brother and sister Mordaunt should campaign for incestuous nuptials as well, so that they could marry each other in church. Or, barring that, save from pain and trauma other blood-related couples, those who are willing and able to consummate such unions.

Just to think that Penny Mordaunt almost succeeded in becoming our prime minister. On the other hand, she probably would be no worse than the current incumbent or any other present candidate for the post.